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Mekong River: The next flashpoint in Indo-Pacific

China plans to use the river as a trade route for Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative. Like ASEAN, there should be an Indo-Pacific grouping which could voice collective concerns regarding the Dragon’s unsustainable ideas.

Shreedharan Raman



The Mekong river, which has its origins in Tibet, flows through five other nations—Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

It is the right time now to make the pristine, scenic and mighty Mekong river a strategic piece in the Indo-Pacific puzzle. This is of immense importance to India. But, what does India have to lose, in a river that is hundreds of miles away from the nearest border outpost? A lot. In fact, we’ve lost a lot already. Time, effort, money and more importantly — lives.

Core issue

The Mekong river has its origins in Tibet. Waters pass through five other nations (Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam). The terrain it passes through ranges from the cold plateau of Tibet to dense jungles to fertile agricultural lands of the Mekong delta. While playing a crucial role in environment and economy, and therefore making a direct and indirect impact on lives of, at the very least, 6-7 crore people.

Where does China come in? China plans to use the Mekong river as a trade route for the now infamous signature initiative of President Xi Jinping: Belt and Road Initiative. Chinese companies started blasting sections of the river called Pi Long rapids to ‘make it fit’ for cargo ships to transit to and from China through the river.

Strategic importance

Being part of the Indo-Pacific, India has a significant stake in this region. India’s extended neighbourhood. In 2000, India and five other partner nations (Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam) agreed to form Mekong Ganga Cooperation. This is nothing but India’s outreach towards East Asia. The “Look East Policy” as the Government of India calls it. Under this, a lot of development projects were to be partnered. Including Trans-Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway projects. These connectivity projects are far away from debt trap models and are done on partnership basis — free and transparent. No hidden games as that of the Belt & Road Initiative. Also, this started much before the Chinese move.

It might be slow, but steady. We built only on a “need” basis. No forceful imposing of cosmetic/showcase projects at exorbitant amounts on smaller neighbours. While there is a significant progress in the connectivity projects, there is much to catch up to make a deeper economic impact. Many of these small and poor countries are under tighter Chinese influence — economically and strategically. For China, what seemed fine until 2014, suddenly got off rails.

One who has influence over the Mekong river has the sphere of influence over a major chunk of Indo-Pacific theater landmass. The strategic importance is no less than Panama Canal or Suez Canal.

When it comes to the Mekong river, two key players are involved. Myanmar — the first nation downstream after the Mekong river enters from Yunnan province of China. Vietnam, which has the Mekong delta region — the last point before the river flows into the historic Champa Sea — which is part of the Indian cultural sphere, though independent nations. In fact, Mekong holds the unique distinction of flowing through six nations today, which were entirely under Indian cultural sphere of influence. Including Yunnan.


Why Myanmar? Myanmar lies between Andaman Sea/ Bay of Bengal and China’s Yunnan province. The shortest land route for cargo and oil from the Gulf is via Sittwe-Muse-Kunming. This circumvents the Malacca Straits and Champa Sea issues.

 The strategic depth at which China operates to keep a hold on the nations is mind-boggling and elaborate. On Myanmar, while India itself is helping with cultural, security and political capital. On monetary capital, India has roped in Japan for investments to counter Chinese investments and offer an alternative. The SinoJapanese rivalry in Myanmar projects is quite well documented.

 Just after the Myanmar visit of November 2014, the ball started rolling faster. After that visit by Myanmar’s State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to Delhi and two-day log meeting with PM Modi, a lot of perception and alignments between two neighbours seem to have changed.

A vision was spelled out by Suu Kyi in her joint press statement during her 2016 Delhi visit. Subsequently, the political and military relations marched forward. In November 2019, two key events happened. First, Myanmar came under heavy criticism and extreme pressure over the Rohingya issue. Myanmar was taken to the International Criminal Court by Gambia. Not Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh or Indonesia. But Gambia. Ironically, this is just after a year of Gambia receiving financial assistance from PRC in return for breaking ties with Taiwan.

Second event. Five people were kidnapped by the Arakan Army. They were there relating to an India-funded construction project in restive Rakhine province. One Indian national (construction worker) died while in AA’s custody. Four others who were also abducted were released safely. While ICC order came in January 2020.

Investigations that followed on a wider issue of Chinese funding and arming insurgents. China was caught red handed by Myanmar. China did sabotage India funded projects in Myanmar. Especially, Trans-Asian Highway/Railway link related projects. And more specifically, the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Project which is key to connecting India’s Northeastern provinces. Not just that. China did mischief against those who were opposing citing environmental and financial issues that exist in China funded China Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) projects in Myanmar.

For those who don’t know, Arakan Army is fully funded & armed by China’s PLA directly. As per media reports, the Ministry of State Security (MSS) supports AA too. On the other hand, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) is funded by China indirectly through Pakistan’s ISI, per news reports. AA committed some grave human rights violations on Rohingyas. Just like their adversary ARSA did on Hindus and Buddhists. China funds both. ARSA got assistance from Pakistan is a different story. Overall, China supports a lot of terrorist groups in this region. PLA & MSS even funds insurgent groups in India’s North East — which operate training camps in Myanmar’s jungles. Indian Army and Myanmar’s Tatmadaw did a joint strike on these terror camps many times in the past few years. Some of India’s most-wanted terrorists are tracked to Yunnan Province of China.

By creating an image of Myanmar as a politically unstable State that is also infested with internal trouble, China made Myanmar look unattractive for foreign investments. Thus, keeping Myanmar under its claws of debt trap. This is a double-edged sword. Fact is, China has waged a political, economic and even a sub-conventional proxy war against Myanmar for showing slightest signs of aligning with India — for all peaceful purposes. Myanmar, by now, has understood the game and moved on completely away from Chinese influence. The little influence that we see is also bound to vanish in times to come. The recent meeting between Myanmar’s military chief and Indian Defence Minister was the final nail in the coffin. India upped its game in Myanmar and there will be no looking back.


Mekong protection is key to sustaining the food basket of South East Asia. Be it freshwater fishing, agriculture or poultry. The bigger problem here is that the fear of this damage being irreversible. Making it impossible for future rejuvenation of this natural habitat of precious flora & fauna.

 Development always needs to be sustainable. More importantly, with little to no damage to habitat/ecosystem. Here, we are talking of destroying an entire natural habitat in the middle of a rainforest, for unadulterated greed.

Few months ago, water levels reached a historic low of 1.5 metres. Then, the worst drought in a century this year. Then, there have been reports of this being the reason for saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta region. Vietnam’s food basket. This is nothing short of an environmental emergency that Vietnam was battling along with Pandemic. Currently, due to heavy rains in China, the water levels have risen. And the basin is flooded. This is majorly due to irresponsible/unscientific restricting of the flow of Mekong river water. The issue is well documented in local media. This is the level of environmental impact. Though Vietnam took diplomatic steps to raise this issue with China, it is of little help. Vi e t n a m’s e c o n o m i c growth trajectory over the past few years has been upwards and quite robust. They’ve pulled out a large chunk of their people out of poverty. The Mekong delta region of the country has played a crucial role in this. This region is key to the country’s food security in future too. Such projects might have a deep economic & social impact on the people too.

 Cambodia, Lao PDR & Thailand

Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand face political and sovereignty issues that are caused due to environmental impact on its people. The issues are very similar to what Vietnam faces. A wave of protests over China’s irresponsible Mekong river projects. Some violent attacks on Chinese workers too. Per one report of Reuters, “Chinese engineers on the Mekong said they were worried that Thai protesters would board the rickety cargo ship where they slept, prompting them to moor it on the Laotian side of the Mekong each night.” Over the past few years, “Mekong River is Not for Sale” has become more than a slogan for the locals. This started rumblings at political & geo-political level as Nations were scrambling themselves while unable to speak out against a mighty China. Vietnam is not alone. Story is similar in Thailand and Lao PDR too. The protests had a political bearing on Lao PDR & Thai Governments at various levels. Sovereignty issue.

China’s overambitious problem

As it is oft-repeated on any issue where China is party to, chances are that the issue most likely originated in China. This one, has its roots in China after PRC setting itself an ambition to control the region’s waters. It might sound like an allegation, but this is their act elsewhere too. More precisely, this is one of the reasons for PRC’s invasion of Tibet. For example: Mekong River Commission was formed — officially in 1995. The Commission has 4 members out of 6 States through which the river flows, as members. The other two exclusions being Myanmar and Tibet/ China.

 In 2012, a rival organization was proposed by someone as big as China’s Premier Li Keqiang. The Lancang – Mekong Cooperation. Now that we know the clout China had those days, it must have had little difficulty in getting all 5 States into this organisation. Who’d have thought of meeting eye to eye with China those days. Leave alone these small nations saying a “No” for an answer. Especially, when this new LMC was spearheaded by no less than China’s Premier. Within a few years, development — China-style — started reaching those areas.

If you haven’t noticed, China copied even the name of Mekong Ganga Cooperation — as PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee suggested in 2000. As Premier Li Keqiang suggested in 2012, it is Lancang-Mekong Cooperation. Humility puts one’s interests behind. Hence, India put Ganga after Mekong. Culture matters.

Only money, no care for the environment, sovereignty or livelihood was given. Problems started.

Course of action

If China’s clout must be curtailed in the region, China’s access to the region’s shores must be restricted. Be it Bay of Bengal or Champa Sea. The only other option is through the Mekong basin. It is here that World’s democracies should partner with these small nations that are hit by China’s wolf-warrior diplomacy. Help them create their own wealth using the Mekong river and keep them independent from China.

The way China has tricked these small nations it’s unlikely that they would ever trust China’s intentions ever again. China too knows this. Hence, China used “mischief” as strategy. Beat Myanmar down and tame Vietnam. Unfortunately for China, both strategies have failed. With Indo-Pacific region heating up, it won’t be wrong to see many democratic political changes which would help the Mekong river flow peacefully. With Vietnam and Myanmar out of China’s sphere of influence, this could happen faster than expected.

 India can pace up the initiatives of Mekong-Ganga Cooperation — where it was last left and speed up the progress First, people to people contact should be made simple and affordable. Second, ease of doing business should be the key driving factor. If the Mekong delta flourishes, India’s Northeast flourishes too. Lastly, the Mekong Ganga Cooperation project, had a dream to run a passenger train from Delhi/Kolkata to Hanoi. Hopefully, we see it in our lifetime.

A good regional cooperation is the need of the hour. Like ASEAN, there should be an Indo-Pacific grouping which could voice collective concerns regarding China’s unsustainable ideas. This is more than enough for wealth creation and people movement. This should be done at the earliest before we lose habitat for good. If we don’t stop this, I am fully sure nature would reclaim itself.

Shreedharan Raman watches strategic moves by countries around the globe, especially China.

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CCP taking over Nepal: Oli is just the tip of the iceberg

While Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s recent behaviour is the most visible part of the CCP’s growing influence in Nepal, there is far more that needs to be recognised.

Ashish Singh



The ongoing political crisis in Nepal has caught the attention of the world. The casual observer may be forgiven for dismissing it as an isolated incident, caused by the internal fault lines in Kathmandu’s ruling political dispensation. This is both an incorrect and a dangerous assumption, since it overlooks the radical changes which are being pushed in Nepal by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). While PM K.P. Sharma Oli’s recent behaviour is the most visible part of the CCP’s influence in Nepal, there is far more that needs to be recognised.

Ever since the Nepal Communist Party led coalition regained power in Kathmandu in 2018, the CCP has unleashed a multi-pronged strategy to bring the Himalayan nation under its absolute control. The trademark Chinese strategies of ‘debt trap through development’ and ‘territorial salami slicing’ have been supplemented by overt ‘political interference’ and ‘social engineering’. In the last two years alone, the effects of this all-out effort have been felt by the people of Nepal across their country. This is an example of the CCP using its Sun Tzu inspired playbook for ‘winning without fighting’, and it is vital that the people of Nepal as well as all stakeholders in Nepal’s future, realise the gravity of the situation and act before it is too late.

The principal manifestation of China’s interest in Nepal is the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network. 20 projects associated with this Network were signed between the two countries, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative when Xi Jinping visited Kathmandu in October 2019. Xi’s visit was the first by a Chinese Head of State in 23 years and underscored the growing importance of Kathmandu in Beijing’s plans for South Asia. Interestingly, the centre piece of this Network is a Kathmandu-Kerung railway line, which is estimated to cost 2.3 billion USD. This approximates to 10% of Nepal’s GDP – how the project would ever become economically viable remains unclear. If anything, the major quantity of trade carried would be from China to Nepal, which in time, would exacerbate debt issues for the latter. Echoes of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota experience loom large in this case!

 The minor territorial disagreements between India and Nepal have drawn much political attention in recent weeks. This issue will undoubtedly be addressed bilaterally in the days ahead. In the same period, PM Oli has quietly ceded 36 hectares of Nepalese territory to China. This has been caused by CCP’s unilateral constructions on rivers in Tibet (Autonomous Region), regardless of the impact on lower riparian nations. In Nepal’s case, changes in the routes of rivers have changed the defacto border at 11 locations in just two years. In addition, the Rui village of Nepal found itself becoming a part of China recently… leaving the 72 Nepali families there stranded in a foreign country! There has been no official pushback from Nepal on these aspects.

Mount Everest has been a major source of tourism for Nepal over the last several decades. However, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the peak has been closed for a few months now. The CCP immediately seized the opportunity to ‘capture the peak’, which lies close to the border between Nepal and Tibet (Autonomous Region). Recently, a team of scientists and surveyors sponsored by the CCP climbed the peak from the Tibetan side to identify suitable locations for the Chinese 5G network. A Chinese daily also claimed that the peak, called Qomlangma in Chinese, lies in Tibet. It has long been a strategy for the CCP to gradually change the status quo by renaming a feature, developing it, and thereafter claiming full ownership. This has been seen in multiple locations in the South China Sea and an effort is definitely being made to gradually seize ownership of the world-famous mountain, which has long been a source of pride and revenue for the people of Nepal.

Socially conditioning the citizens of Nepal for greater control by Beijing is also underway. The most overt action has been the forceful implementation of ‘Mandarin’ classes in Nepal’s schools. While this has been disguised as a ‘trade-off’ for payment of teachers’ salaries, it is undoubtedly an attempt to enhance Chinese influence over the population. Moreover, Chinese tourists in Nepal have steadily grown over the years, and have become a mainstay of the tourism sector. Weaponisation of tourism by Beijing has already been seen in South Korea, and the potential impact of this on Nepal’s economy provides significant power to the CCP.

The CCP has used this power effectively to gradually step up its influence on the Nepalese Communist Party (NCP). A series of interactions and ideological exchanges have taken place in recent times. According to some observers, the CCP aims to gradually shift the NCP’s political ideology towards the recently formulated Xi Jingping Thought. This would allow the Chinese Premier to become the ‘de facto’ leader of the NCP (like Mao had been for some Communist parties in the region) giving the CCP near absolute control over Nepal.

Implementing this strategy has required very nimble and strong local effort, which has been made possible by Hou Yangi, Beijing’s Ambassador at Kathmandu. Hou, who has previously served in Islamabad, has established unprecedented ties with the senior political and military leadership of Nepal. She is said to have complete access to the Prime Minister, Chief of Army Staff as well as the Ministers of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Tourism, etc. Hou has also established a huge social media following in Nepal and has recently also been seen as instrumental in drawing Chinese tourists and trade to Nepal in large volume.

In the last week of April 2020, when PM Oli was nearly removed from office by the ruling alliance, Hou met with leaders of all political factions in a series of closed door, intense meetings which ultimately allowed PM Oli to cling on to his chair. It is understood that the core message of these interactions was — “if we remove Oli, then India wins… which is unacceptable”.

Such overt and aggressive political influence would undoubtedly have raised objections from the political class and the media. However, local media houses have allegedly been warned off from such reporting. It is alarming how the political representation of the proud Nepalese people has been quietly and comprehensively subjugated by the CCP.

Beijing has made it no secret that it views itself as the leader in Asia and seeks to establish a hierarchical structure with itself at the apex. The implications of these ambitions for the people of smaller countries like Nepal, could be significant. Oli’s anti-India stance highlights how effective the CCP has been so far… and how the ancient cultural, traditional and civilisational relations between our two nations are being eroded. It is essential that the people of Nepal, as well as India and all other nations which have a stake in the future stability of the region, realise the extent of the CCP’s expansionist plans and act now, in concert, to safeguard the future of the Himalayan nation.

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New appointments in Western and Central Air Commands

Air Marshal V.R. Chaudhari is the new Western Air Command Chief; Air Marshal autonomous free flight D.K. Patnaik becomes the Central Air Command Senior Air Staff Officer.

Ashish Singh



Air Marshal V.R. Chaudhari has been appointed as the new Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Air Command, Indian Air Force (IAF). The Air Marshal took over command from Air Marshal B. Suresh. Air Marshal V.R. Chaudhari was commissioned into Fighter Stream of the IAF on 29 December 1982 as a Fighter Pilot. In a distinguished career spanning nearly 38 years, the Air Officer has flown wide variety of fighter and trainer aircraft in the inventory of IAF. He has a flying experience of more than 3800 hrs, including operational flying on MiG-21, MiG-23 MF, MiG 29 and Su30 MKI fighter aircraft.

During his illustrious career in the IAF, the Air Officer has held numerous important appointments. He was Commanding Officer of a frontline fighter squadron and has also commanded a frontline Fighter Base. As an Air Vice Marshal, he held the coveted appointments of Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Air Defence), Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Personnel Officers) at Air HQ Vayu Bhawan. As an Air Marshal, he held the appointment of Deputy Chief of the Air Staff at Air HQ Vayu Bhawan. Prior to his present appointment, he was the Senior Air Staff Officer, Eastern Air Command. The Air Marshal is an alumnus of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. In recognition of his distinguished service, the Air Marshal was awarded Vayu Sena Medal in January 2004 and the Ati Vishist Seva Medal in January 2015.

Air Marshal D.K. Patnaik

Meanwhile, Air Marshal Dilip Kumar Patnaik has been appointed as the new Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO), of Central Air Command (CAC), Indian Air Force (IAF). The Air Marshal was commissioned into Fighter stream of the IAF on 8 June 1984 as a Fighter Pilot. The officer has flown wide variety of fighter and trainer aircraft in the inventory of IAF. He has a flying experience of more than 2500 hrs including operational flying on MiG-21 and Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft. He was also a Mission Commander on Searcher MK-II & Heron Aircraft with nearly 800 hours on type.

 During his illustrious career in the IAF, the Air Officer has held numerous important appointments. He was Commanding Officer of a frontline Fighter Squadron and has also commanded a frontline Fighter Base. As an Air Vice Marshal, he has held the coveted appointments of Chief Staff Officer (Air Vector) at HQ Strategic Forces Command and Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Air Defence) at Air HQ Vayu Bhawan. Prior to assuming the present appointment he was Commandant of the Prestigious College of Air Warfare. He is an alumnus of Defence Services Staff College and done the Higher Air Command Course. In recognition of his distinguished service, the Air Marshal was awarded Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) in Aug 99 and Ati Vishist Seva Medal in Jan 2020, by the President of India.

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VSR700 prototype performs first autonomous free flight

Ashish Singh



The prototype of Airbus Helicopters’ VSR700 unmanned aerial system (UAS) has performed its first free flight. The VSR700 performed a ten-minute flight at a drone test centre near Aixen-Provence in the south of France. This is a significant step in the programme following the first flight in November 2019 when the prototype was tethered to comply with regulatory requirements.

 To enable this free flight, Airbus Helicopters implemented geofencing, a virtual perimeter, which enabled and justified a flight clearance from airworthiness authorities for free flight. The flight test programme will now evolve to progressively open the flight envelope. “The free flight achieved by the VSR700 is a major step leading up to the sea trials that will be performed at the end of 2021 as part of the de-risking studies for the French Navy’s future drone,” said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. “Thanks to the French PlanAero, the programme will make full use of two demonstrators and an optionally piloted vehicle to develop and mature the technical and operational aspects for successful UAS operations in a naval environment.” The VSR700, derived from Helicopteres Guimbal’s Cabri G2, is an unmanned aerial system in the 500- 1000 kg maximum takeoff weight range. It offers the best balance of payload capability, endurance and operational cost. It is capable of carrying multiple full-size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate from existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint. This VSR700 prototype has evolved over the last nine months since its maiden flight. The programme implemented the geofencing function, as well as a Flight Termination System allowing the mission to be ended if necessary. Modifications have equally been performed to the air vehicle, alongside autopilot software evolutions and updates, as well as structural modifications and reinforcements.

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Western Air Command chief B. Suresh retires

Ashish Singh



Air Marshal B. Suresh, Air Officer Commanding-inChief, Western Air Command, Indian Air Force, superannuated on 31 July 2020 after an illustrious career spanning nearly 40 years. The Air Marshal was commissioned as a Fighter Pilot in the Indian Air Force in the year 1980. An alumnus of the Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun and National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, the Air Marshal is a ‘Sword of Honour’ recipient from the Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment. The Air Officer did his post graduation from the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and from Cranfield University, Shrivenham, UK.

 Air Marshal Suresh is a highly experienced Fighter Pilot and has flown a variety of aircraft. During his distinguished career, the Air Marshal held a number of coveted Command and Staff appointments. He commanded a Fighter Squadron which specialised in maritime and night air strikes and was deployed along the western border during the Kargil conflict. Before taking over the appointment of Director Operations (Joint Planning) which is responsible for Tri-service coordination, he commanded Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment. The Air Marshal has commanded one of the largest air bases of the IAF in the western sector as an Air Commodore. He was also the Air Assistant to the Chief of Air Staff. As an Air Vice Marshal, he held the important appointed of Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Operations (Air Defence) for nearly four years, wherein he was also the Air Force member of the Tri-service Joint Operations Committee (JOCOM).

Widely acclaimed as a strategist and tactician of repute within Air Force circles, he is credited with having been the mastermind behind IAF’s superlative performance during Exercise Cope India 2004 – the first International bilateral exercise with the United States Air Force, held after a gap of nearly 40 years. He was again nominated as the ‘Exercise Director’ for the first ever bilateral exercise with the Republic of Singapore Air Force – Ex SINDEX 2004 – where once again, the IAF excelled. The role played by the Air Officer in ensuring IAF’s recognition internationally as a force to reckon with was acknowledged by awarding him the Presidential award of Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM). He, as a Group Captain, was one of the youngest recipients of the Presidential Award.

After being promoted to the rank of Air Marshal in 2014, he was appointed as the Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) of Western Air Command wherein he brought about remarkable improvements in the operational orientation and battle readiness of the Command with increased synergy with the three associated Commands of the Indian Army viz – Northern Command, Western Command and South Western Command. As Air Officer-in-Charge Personal (AOP) at Air Headquarters, his decisions and foresight left a significant impact. He was instrumental in initiating online conduct of Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) and Scheduled Test for Airmen Recruitment (STAR) – the recruitment examination for officers and airmen respectively.

The Air Marshal was the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Air Command prior to his appointment as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command. Under his leadership, Southern Air Command grew exponentially in capability and functionality. The entire ‘Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) efforts during the Kerala floods in 2018 were spearheaded by Southern Air Command under his leadership. This was one of the highest intensity HADR efforts undertaken by IAF in recent history.

During his tenure as the AOC-in-C Western Air Command, he ensured a high state of operational and security preparedness and laid the foundation for the induction of the formidable Rafale fighter into the IAF. He has also been instrumental in operationalisation, both by day and night, of IAF’s new inductions viz., Chinook heavy-lift helicopter and Apache attack helicopter. In a first of sorts, airfields in Ladakh sector were operationalised for night fighter operations, thus giving a tremendous boost to 24X7 capabilities of IAF.

 The Air Marshal is a highly decorated officer having been awarded Vayu Sena Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and the Param Vishisht Seva Medal in recognition of his distinguished and dedicated service to the Nation. He was also appointed as Honorary Aide-de-Camp to the President of India.

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Tribute to the fallen soldiers at Tulihal Airport in Imphal

Ashish Singh



To honour the supreme sacrifice made by Havildar (GD) Pranay Kalita, Rifleman (GD) Methna Konyak and Rifleman (GD) Ratan Salam of the Assam Rifles, who laid down their lives in the line of duty on 29 July 2020 in Manipur, a wreath-laying ceremony with full military honours was organised at Tulihal Airport, Imphal, on Friday. During the solemn occasion, wreaths were laid to pay homage to the fallen soldiers by N Biren Singh, CM of Manipur, L Shushindro, MLA, LM Khaute, DGP- Manipur, Brigadier DS Shishodia, Dy IG Assam Rifles (South), Brig Deepak Joshi, Commander, 9 Sector Assam Rifles and Col Prashant Misra, Col ‘A’ 57 Mountain Division.

They were killed in action on Thursday in an ambush laid by the PLA, a Manipur based insurgents group near India- Myanmar border. The sacrifice of the fallen soldiers hailing from Manipur, Nagaland and Assam, truly represents the idea of unity in diversity – the strength of our nation and the Assam Rifles. Assam Rifles remains committed to the security of the nation and will continue to uphold it’s ideals in it’s pursuit to defeat secessionist forces.

Havildar (GD) Pranay Kalita, a resident of Barpeta, Assam, is survived by his wife and two daughters, while Rifleman (GD) Methna Konyak, a resident of Mon District, Nagaland is survived by his wife and daughter. Rifleman Ratan Salam is a resident of Kakching Makha Leikai, Manipur and he has left behind his wife and two sons. They were dedicated, brave and courageous soldiers of the Assam Rifles. The nation salutes their supreme sacrifice made in the highest traditions of the Force in service of the nation. In this hour of grief, the Assam Rifles stands firm in its solem commitment to ensure the welfare of the families of the fallen soldiers.

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DIAT develops medical bed isolation system for Covid-19 patients

Ashish Singh



In current pandemic, due to continuous increase of Covid-19 positive patients, the requirement of number of beds are increasing day by day. Defence Institute of Advanced Technology, (DIAT) in Pune has developed ‘Aashray’, the Medical Bed Isolation System to combat Covid-19 by stopping/ minimising the spread of virus/ infection released by the patient. This is a low cost, reusable solution to maintain proper isolation of Covid-19 patients by creating suction /negative pressure near exhale, and further filtering and disinfecting the aerosol.

Bed Isolation System envelopes are made up of specialised material and manufacturing process with transparent and translucent 7.5(l) ×7(w) ×6.5(h) ft3 size supported on medical grade materials structure. The product is modular and portable in design and can be suitable for different requirements such as institutional, hospitals and home/ individual quarantine. The envelope is reusable as it is antibacterial&anti-fungal and can be sanitised.

Each envelope is capable of housing one set of bed, table and chair along with some walking space. The width of the envelope can be adjusted as per the availability of space. Envelope is opaque up to 3ft from bottom to maintain privacy of the patient. The entire envelope is maintained at a low pressure (suction) with adjustable flow rate to restrain spread of virus/ infection inside the hall/ ICU. Each envelope is connected to the main duct equipped with UV light and filter circuit of Pre, fine and HEPA filter (recommended for medical application) and suction blower. The cross flow of air from top of the envelope towards the main duct is regulated (with a flap valve) as per comfort conditions of the patient. The virus/contaminants are continuously sucked through the duct and accumulated at the filters which are projected with UV light. The suction blower throws the filtered and contamination free air to outside environment. As per prototype manufacturer (M/s Cleancore Solutions Pvt Ltd. Bhosari, Pune) the cost of the setup for a unit of 10 beds is 1 lakh approximately and for home quarantine will be 15,000 for single bed.

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